Judge weighs Minor’s request to be released during trial

Published 8:06 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Gulf Coast attorney Paul Minor awaited a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday on whether he would be released from jail during his retrial on judicial bribery charges.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate heard arguments on Minor’s motion Tuesday. Minor has been jailed since September for violating terms of his bond.

“I disobeyed your order before; I humbly ask that you reconsider,” Minor told the court. “I would obey any conditions you impose 1,000 percent.”

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Minor wants to live with his parents in Jackson during his retrial, which begins in U.S. District Court in Jackson with jury selection Wednesday.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Dave Fulcher opposed release, arguing that freeing Minor during his trial would be giving the attorney special privileges that others who violated their bonds don’t receive.

The U.S. Probation Office also is opposing Minor’s release.

Minor is accused of bribing former Circuit Judge John Whitfield and former Chancery Judge Wes Teel in return for favorable rulings. Whitfield and Teel are accused of taking bribes. All three have pleaded innocent.

Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. was acquitted of bribery charges after a three-month trial in 2005. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on some charges against Minor, Teel and Whitfield.